Friday, February 26, 2010

Quiet Moments

Ahh, quiet moments, they are few and far between:)

The past few days have been a little hectic, and last night when I tried to go to sleep, Scarlett started crying. So after getting her settled down, I went out into the living room and just sat for a few minutes. What a wonderful gift that silence was.

With everything going on at church, with all the running from activity to activity with the girls, moments of silence and calm are very welcome. Just taking a moment and letting the brain and body rest, what a gift it is. I truly treasure this time.

Today the Jen and girls went to Milwaukee to see her family and so Jen could attend a funeral - so the morning was hectic again. But, you know, that is good. For the quiet moments give a sense of peace and calm, even when you have to give a girl a time out, and the day, as busy as it may be, will be seen through eyes of blessing.

So may you be blessed with quiet moments, and may your eyes of blessing be opened.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lenten Disciplines #2

As I mentioned earlier, one of my Lenten disciplines has to do with reading. I am currently reading a book by Rob Bell called "Velvet Elvis." It is a wonderful book about Christianity and how we live out our faith in the world.

The section I just finished had to do with the start of his church, how it grew rapidly, and the stress it put upon Rob. At one point her realized that he was trying to lead the church (over 10000 members) the same way he would try to lead a small congregation, and it was burning him out.

I think we can all relate in that we over-extend ourselves, put unrealistic expectations upon ourselves, and burn out. We want to please people, to be the best, to make sure no one is unhappy or upset with us, and the list goes on and on.

But when we do this, we tear ourselves down. We are not going to please everyone. We are not going to be perfect. We cannot read people's minds and anticipate every move. We are human.

And when we come to this realization, it is freeing. It is freeing because we can release ourselves to do what we do best - what we are God-gifted with. Sure, there are times we need to do things we may not enjoy, but when we free ourselves from unrealistic expectations, we see the world in a new light, and things are much more joyful.

So today, I invite you to give up some of the unrealistic expectations that have been placed upon you. Remember - you are human, you are not perfect, and you are the one that God loves and continues to come to, over and over again in your life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Video

Today we shot another video for our Faithsteps series. Let me know what you think.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lenten Disciplines

For a number of years when i was younger I would give up something for Lent - pop, chocolate, fast food, etc. But over time I came to the realization that doing these things never really enhanced my spiritual life. Instead I was just yearning for whatever I gave up and hoping Lent would come to an end fast.

So lately what I have done is picked up a spiritual practice of some sort. It might be a different style of prayer, writing in a journal, or focusing on a specific book in the Bible for this time of year. In doing this I started to grow more in that spiritual discipline and kept most of them even when Lent was over.

So this year I am working on a holistic discipline. I am spending these 40 days focusing on mind, body, and spirit. I have a book I am going to read a part of every day, a physical routine I will be doing, and a book in the Bible I will use as my focus. In doing these I am hoping to set up some standards that I will keep even when lent comes to an end.

So this year I challenge you to pick up a discipline during this holy season. Make some time to find ways you can grow in your life. And celebrate this season by celebrating the blessings you have been given.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Remember you are dust

Today is Ash Wednesday, the start of the Lenten season. For me, Ash Wednesday is one of the most moving services that we have because it serves as a reminder of our mortality. There is a time when we come forward, are marked with an ash cross on our foreheads, and told - Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

This Ash Wednesday is taking on special meaning for me because of the funeral I have tomorrow. One of the long time members of the church passed away over the weekend and tomorrow we are celebrating his life and mourning his loss. The day before he passed away I was able to visit with him and he filled me in on all of his funeral plans. We then proceeded to talk about Psalm 23 and how God was in the process of restoring his soul and leading him to the still waters. It was a moving moment.

All of us will have times like this in our lives. We are mortal, and there is no way we can avoid that fact. But with God walking with us, taking our faithsteps with us, we are never alone. We are blessed to know that God will lead us to the still waters and give us what we need.

So on this Ash Wednesday, I invite you to take a few moments to reflect on the blessings you have been given in life, and then think of some ways you want to grow in your spiritual life. Throughout Lent, put some of those thoughts into action and see where God is leading you.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Reaching Out

Yesterday we had a conference here that had to do with Outreach and the mindset of the church. We had some great speakers, and one of the main things I took away from it was that here we are already doing many of the things that they were talking about. But the hardest part for many to grasp is the fact that God is active in the world, and not only in the church.

For years church-goers thought that it was here, inside these walls and inside this community, was the only place where God was active and that we had to go "out there" to bring God to a broken world. But realistically speaking, creation is a gift from God, and he is already out there, in the world, doing his work. And we, who are a part of the church, need to get out with those who God is blessing and working through. In doing this we are participating with God and his activity.

In many was, this is common sense stuff. God loves to create, to bless, to empower, to build relationships with all people. And we are truly blessed to be a part of what he is doing in the world and in and through us. So may we all have our eyes opened to see that wonderful work that God is doing and may our hands be opened as well, so that we may work with God in this wonderful creation of his.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This year I started teaching confirmation in January. Jennifer had it all fall, teaching the Old Testament, this winter and spring I get the new testament. After a few sessions with this group I realized what a great class we have this year. They are bright, enthusiastic, and willing to talk and ask questions. They are a real breath of fresh air.

It also awakened in me the joy of learning once again. For a number of years confirmation was just teaching a few of the basics to the class. This year, they have the basics down and want to go deeper and learn more. So I had to redo my own schedule, and do a little more research as well. I realized how much I miss being able to do that - to read, study, and grow in my own educational life.

It also served as a reminder to me to never stop reading and learning. There are times when things seem to be going so fast - the work life is so busy - that I just don't make the time to read for educational purposes. So this year I have a stack of books in my office and try to read a little every day. What a joy it is to have that time and continue learning from others.

So I invite you to do the same - pick a topic you want to learn more about, check out a book or DVD, and just have some fun. What a blessing it is to be able to grow every day of our lives.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Faith and Social Media

Over the past few months I have had more and more friends get involved with social media sites, especially Facebook. During this time I have also seen a variety of ways that people are expressing their faith on these sites. Sometimes it is a post on something that they believe, sometimes it is a prayer request, and sometimes it is just a quick tweet expressing frustration or joy on something that is going on in their lives.

All of this is fascinating to me because it demonstrates the drive to find the spiritual in the world. People are searching and expressing their faith in amazing ways - sometimes healthy, sometimes not.

But in it all, there is that desire to be connected with something greater than one person alone. The desire to be connected with something spiritual in the world and in their lives. The question I have is: how can the social media sites help on this search?

I think that these sites provide a sense of community for many people and they feel safe in expressing their doubts and questions, as well as gain support for what they are going through in their lives. It does not have the stigma of a historic church where they might have been hurt in the past. It is freeing for them to be open about their search with people that they trust.

So how about you? Do you use social media sites and do you feel free to express your faith on them? I would like to hear about how your faith is impacted by these sites.